Answer the Call
I was listening to a message online by Bishop TD Jakes the other day, and at the end of it I thought to myself, “I’m going to give you such a big hug when we meet in heaven, because you have helped me through a lot of rough patches!”. It seemed like a weird thought to pop into my head but then I started to think of how many people regard this special instrument of God as a Mentor to them. This month is all about Mentoring and I fully agree with a statement last week’s article which said “…it takes a whole village to raise a child.” While this might make more sense to those who had the privilege of being raised in the great continent of Africa, it is a statement that embodies a deep truth – Parents can’t do the job alone. Here is my experience of being Mentee and Mentor.
I didn’t choose any of the people I call Mentors today. Some forced themselves on me, some just came out of an evolved relationship, some were chosen by God i.e., my Parents. One Mentor in particular stood out and had a major influence on my life during my twenties. She came into my life while I was in college and followed me through University. I met her husband about a year after I met her, and they became a dynamic duo to many of us in the youth group. Aunty opened up about herself and made it easy for me to come comfortably with my issues and worries. My Parents are great but because they are ‘the parents’ I can’t just tell them everything.
Aunty and Uncle knew of every crush, every date, every almost date, every sibling squabble (I had tonnes of those!), every hair disaster and wardrobe function or malfunction. I remember wearing a new black dress to church one Sunday. Aunty was not in town so she didn’t see me. As soon as I got home, she called the landline saying “Uche what did you wear to church today!? I’ve been receiving phone calls saying “hmmm, you should have seen your Uche today””. I had to then explain that it really wasn’t a bad look, it was just a very different look for me. We had a good laugh over it. When it was time to go to University, this couple drove all the way to Uni with my family to make sure I settled in ok. I started my course and I was really struggling with live presentations as my confidence levels were really low. Uncle and Aunty prayed with me and helped me prepare for my presentations via phone. They even bought me a book on confidence which I still have and reflect on every now and again. What made this couple so amazing was the fact that they didn’t just give me this attention, but they had the same level of dedication to so many others that I knew of.
Being a Mentor is hard work. I didn’t always listen to them because I wanted to make some of my own mistakes, plus I genuinely thought I knew better. As a mentee, I had to learn that my Mentors were still human, and they could also make mistakes because God is our first and final authority on every matter. As I got closer to marriage, there was a big drift in our relationship. Looking back now, I understand that they had a human moment and they needed to focus inwardly for a period. It didn’t stop me feeling abandoned though as no explanation had been given. However, I had learnt so much from this couple and others that I found myself Mentoring others. One wonderful young lady sticks out.
Little Lizzy was not anyone’s idea of sweet. She was 12yrs old when we met and I honestly feel she didn’t give me a choice. She just attached herself to me and after a few months I felt God was telling me to take an active role in this little girl’s life. She was trouble with a capital T, and I had my work cut out. I started out being her hair-dresser. I learnt that Jesus met people’s needs and this opened opportunities for eternal investments, so I adopted the same practice. Hair-dressing opened up opportunities to talk, and boy did we talk. It helped that we both like singing so we talked music and life. She came into my family home and many people got to know that Lizzy was under my wings.
It was actually weird for me when people started to report her to me, saying she had done this and that. I’d just like to point out here that having a Mentor in secret or from a distance may not be the smartest approach to growing. When people know you are accountable to someone, it helps to keep you in check. Not because you live in fear of your Mentor, but because of the love and respect you have for this person and the value you place on your relationship.
Lizzy had some struggles in college. I remembered what my Mentors did for me and I went a step further. I actually studied one of her literature books to help her with an essay. I had a copy of her school time-table and her study time-table. We talked about her gifts and talents and when was the right time to explore certain leadings. When she became 16 and started treating me like I had never lived, I decided to give her the journal I kept as an 18yr old. Bold move! I thought about it for a while but I needed her to understand that its ok to experience certain things but you need to be responsible for every action you take. Praying for Lizzy was a job in itself. I didn’t hide my university struggles from her because I didn’t need to be perfect to her – I needed to be real. Sometimes she would ask questions about something she had read in my journal and I tried to be as honest as possible – I’m still the adult after all.
I’ve Mentored a few others over the years. Some people need you for a season and others for a lifetime. Don’t confuse the two. Some mentees cost me a lot of money and even some sacrifices I didn’t really want to make if I’m to be honest; but when you have invested in a person’s life and live to see that investment grow and bear fruit, you are truly blessed. My little Lizzy is an amazing young woman and I am so proud of her. We still communicate but she doesn’t need me as much these days. She is also Mentoring a couple of people and I on occasion send some of my current mentees to have a chat with her or spend time with her.
To Mentor someone is a calling, one which you will have to answer at some point. Sometimes it may just be one conversation that you get to have, which will change the course of a young person’s life. Maybe all God wants you to do is teach someone a skill you have learnt, a skill which will take that person to higher heights. It will cost you something, probably more than you would usually want to give. I have a current Mentor and friend who is extremely selfless. She gives everything and sacrifices so much for others you wonder if she is indeed human sometimes. Yet she can be hurt and vulnerable like the next person. She is real and I love her so much for the role she has allowed God to use her to play in my life.
Submitting to a Mentor might be an even harder task, especially if you are a bit more mature in age. You ask yourself so many questions and begin to look for faults in the proposed Mentor. Just submit to God and let Him lead you to the people who he has prepared to help you on your route to destiny.
So whether you are hearing the call to submit to a Mentor, or to be a Mentor, don’t delay. The Master is waiting, Answer the call.
In His Service,
Dishusbandmata……passionate about relationships
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